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Refrigerant Recovery: The Time to Act Was Yesterday

Refrigerant recovery is nothing new. You already know that there are stringent laws in place dictating how R-22 is allowed to be used, and if you don’t dispose of it properly, you could face some huge fines. However, even with these laws in place, not enough HVAC contractors are responsibly reclaiming the R-22 they obtain on the field. This is bad news for the environment and could result in some serious consequences for you. 

Why Refrigerant Reclamation Is Slowing Down 

In 2016, it seemed like HVAC contractors were getting it. There were more than nine million pounds of R-22 reclaimed, and everyone was happy. But then 2017 hit, and the R-22 market slowed down dramatically. Experts suggest this happened for a variety of reasons:  

  • The price of R-22 increased, so there is less of the refrigerant in circulation. 
  • The season was comparatively cooler than in the past, so not as much R-22 was being used. 
  • The economy improved, so many people upgraded their older R-22-based equipment with updated models that use replacement refrigerants. 

Risks of Not Reclaiming R-22 

Currently, there seems to be a lot of HVAC contractors that are not properly disposing of R-22. Either they aren’t reclaiming it at all, or they are improperly mixing it with other refrigerants, resulting in an impure product. This is extremely worrisome for the industry as a whole and for the contractors themselves. While the risk of an R-22 shortage is a concern, there are substitute refrigerants available. The bigger concern is the environment and the fines and penalties contractors face for not following the law.  

  • The Environment – R-22 has been proven to destroy the ozone layer if released into the air, which has the potential to alter the Earth as we know it. The ozone layer is responsible for keeping out the sun’s UV radiation, so if it diminishes, the UV radiation increases, which impacts every living thing on the planet. UV radiation is responsible for causing skin cancer and cataracts and impacts how well plants grow. 
  • The Fines – The Environmental Protection Agency is authorized to fine an HVAC contractor up to $37,500 per day if they are found guilty of improperly disposing R-22. They conduct random inspections and have an anonymous tip line for people to report violators, so nobody is safe. 

What You Can Do as an HVAC Contractor 

Hopefully you are one of the HVAC contractors who has always properly disposed of R-22, and if you are, we thank you. And if you are not, we hope that wanting to do the right thing for the environment will motivate you. If not that, perhaps the risk of steep fines is enough. There is no amount of refrigerant that is safe to let into the air. Every single pound counts, and the refrigerant you reclaim will make a difference. It is also important that you do not mix the R-22 with any other refrigerants, as the mixed refrigerant can result in HVAC equipment failing prematurely, and it can cost more to purify, which will drive the cost of the refrigerant up for everyone. 

Properly reclaiming R-22 is not only the law, it is the responsible thing to do. And at CE, we make it easy. In fact, you can actually make money being responsible through our Clean Exchange Program. You bring us the used refrigerant, we exchange it for a clean, empty cylinder, and we pay you for the R-22. So there’s really no excuse not to do it. To learn more about proper R-22 recovery, contact us now. We would love to be your ally in the process.